Request for Comments on the Draft Proposed 5-Year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2007-2012 and Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Proposed 5-Year Program, 7064-7068 [06-1307]

Download as PDF rmajette on PROD1PC67 with NOTICES1 7064 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 28 / Friday, February 10, 2006 / Notices Frequency: On occasion. Estimated Number and Description of Respondents: Approximately 130 Federal OCS oil, gas, and sulphur lessees. Estimated Reporting and Recordkeeping ‘‘Hour’’ Burden: The currently approved annual reporting burden for this collection is 56,250 hours for approximately 25,000 wells, based on: (1) 1⁄4 hour to locate and copy a summary of drilling operations (e.g., scout tickets) for each well. (2) 2 hours to retrieve and analyze each well file and retrieve other missing data. There are no recordkeeping requirements. Estimated Reporting and Recordkeeping ‘‘Non-Hour Cost’’ Burden: We have identified no cost burdens for this collection. Public Disclosure Statement: The PRA (44 U.S.C. 3501, et seq.) provides that an agency may not conduct or sponsor a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. Until OMB approves a collection of information, you are not obligated to respond. Comments: Before submitting an ICR to OMB, PRA section 3506(c)(2)(A) requires each agency ‘‘ * * * to provide notice * * * and otherwise consult with members of the public and affected agencies concerning each proposed collection of information * * *.’’ Agencies must specifically solicit comments to: (a) Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the agency to perform its duties, including whether the information is useful; (b) evaluate the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information; (c) enhance the quality, usefulness, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) minimize the burden on the respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Agencies must also estimate the ‘‘nonhour cost’’ burdens to respondents or recordkeepers resulting from the collection of information. Therefore, if you have costs to generate, maintain, and disclose this information, you should comment and provide your total capital and startup cost components or annual operation, maintenance, and purchase of service components. You should describe the methods you use to estimate major cost factors, including system and technology acquisition, expected useful life of capital equipment, discount rate(s), and the period over which you incur costs. Capital and startup costs include, VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:10 Feb 09, 2006 Jkt 208001 among other items, computers and software you purchase to prepare for collecting information, monitoring, and record storage facilities. You should not include estimates for equipment or services purchased: (i) Before October 1, 1995; (ii) to comply with requirements not associated with the information collection; (iii) for reasons other than to provide information or keep records for the Government; or (iv) as part of customary and usual business or private practices. We will summarize written responses to this notice and address them in our submission for OMB approval. As a result of your comments, we will make any necessary adjustments to the burden in our submission to OMB. Public Comment Procedures: MMS’s practice is to make comments, including names and addresses of respondents, available for public review. If you wish your name and/or address to be withheld, you must state this prominently at the beginning of your comment. MMS will honor this request to the extent allowable by law; however, anonymous comments will not be considered. All submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, will be made available for public inspection in their entirety. MMS Information Collection Clearance Officer: Arlene Bajusz (202) 208–7744. Dated: January 26, 2006. E.P. Danenberger, Chief, Office of Offshore Regulatory Programs. [FR Doc. E6–1871 Filed 2–9–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–MR–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Minerals Management Service Request for Comments on the Draft Proposed 5-Year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2007–2012 and Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Proposed 5-Year Program SUMMARY: The Minerals Management Service (MMS) requests comments on the Draft Proposed 5-year OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2007–2012. This is the first proposal for a new program to succeed the current program that expires on June 30, 2007, and forms the basis for conducting the studies and analyses the Secretary will consider in making future decisions on what areas to include in the program. PO 00000 Frm 00063 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Section 18 of the OCS Lands Act (43 U.S.C. 1344) specifies a multi-step process of consultation and analysis that must be completed before the Secretary of the Interior may approve a new 5-year program. The required steps following this notice include the development of a proposed program, a proposed final program, and Secretarial approval. Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the MMS also will prepare an EIS for the new 5-year program. DATES: Please submit comments and information to the MMS no later than April 11, 2006. Public Comment Procedure The MMS will accept comments in one of two formats: by mail or our Internet commenting system. Please submit your comments using only one of these formats, and include full names and addresses. Comments submitted by other means may not be considered. We will not consider anonymous comments, and we will make available for inspection in their entirety all comments submitted by organizations and businesses or by individuals identifying themselves as representatives of organizations and businesses. Our practice is to make comments, including the names and home addresses of respondents, available for public review. An individual commenter may ask that we withhold his or her name, home address, or both from the public record, and we will honor such a request to the extent allowable by law. If you submit comments and wish us to withhold such information, you must so state prominently at the beginning of your submission. ADDRESSES: Mail comments and information to: Renee Orr, 5-Year Program Manager, Minerals Management Service (MS–4010), Room 3120, 381 Elden Street, Herndon, Virginia 20170. Please label your comments and the packaging in which they are submitted according to the subject matter. Mark those pertaining to program preparation, ‘‘Comments on Draft Proposed 5-Year Program for 2007–2012,’’ and mark those pertaining to EIS preparation, ‘‘Scoping Comments on the EIS for the 5-Year Program for 2007–2012.’’ If you submit any privileged or proprietary information to be treated as confidential, please mark the envelope, ‘‘Contains Confidential Information.’’ Internet: The MMS will accept comments submitted to our electronic commenting system. This system can be E:\FR\FM\10FEN1.SGM 10FEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 28 / Friday, February 10, 2006 / Notices accessed at http://www.mms.gov/5-year/ 2007–2012main.htm. We also will provide access to information concerning the 5-year program and EIS, including copies of comments we receive in response to this notice, at the MMS Internet website (www.mms.gov). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Renee Orr, 5-Year Program Manager, at (703) 787–1215. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The MMS requests comments from states, local governments, Native groups, tribes, the oil and gas industry, federal agencies, environmental and other interest organizations, and all other interested parties to assist in the preparation of a 5-year OCS oil and gas leasing program for 2007–2012 and the applicable EIS. The draft proposed program document may be downloaded off the MMS website at www.mms.gov. The document also is available as part of our electronic commenting system noted above. Hard copies will be made available by contacting the 5-Year Program Office at 703–787–1215. Background Section 18 of the OCS Lands Act requires the Secretary of the Interior to prepare and maintain a schedule of proposed OCS oil and gas lease sales determined to ‘‘best meet national energy needs for the 5-year period following its approval or reapproval.’’ This draft proposed program is the first proposed schedule of OCS lease sales for the 2007–2012 timeframe. The areas identified as proposed program areas in this notice are ones that warrant further study and analysis based on oil and gas resource estimates and comments received in response to the August 24, 2005 Request for Information. Inclusion of areas in the draft proposed lease sale schedule provides a basis for gathering information and conducting analyses to inform policy makers whether to include these areas for leasing consideration in the new 5-year program. Before the new 5-year program is approved and implemented, the MMS must accept and consider comments on the draft proposed program and issue for public review a proposed program, a draft EIS, a proposed final program, and a final EIS. rmajette on PROD1PC67 with NOTICES1 Summary of the Draft Proposed Program In developing the draft proposed program for 2007–2012, the MMS considered leasing in the areas of the OCS that are included in the current 5year program for 2002–2007 and additional areas off Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, and Atlantic coast. Some of VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:10 Feb 09, 2006 Jkt 208001 these areas are currently withdrawn from disposition by leasing through June 30, 2012, under section 12 of the OCS Lands Act (43 U.S.C. 1341) and have been subject to annual congressional moratoria. There will be no leasing of such areas unless the President chooses to modify the withdrawal and Congress discontinues the annual statutory moratoria. The analyses conducted for the proposed program may provide the information necessary for a potential modification of the withdrawal areas. The draft program proposes sales in offshore areas that have the highest oil and gas resource values and highest industry interest or are off the coasts of states that have expressed interest in learning more about potential energy exploration off their coasts. The proposed schedule is responsive to the recommendations of affected state and local governments. New Planning Area Boundaries On January 3, 2006, the MMS published a notice in the Federal Register announcing the setting of Federal OCS administrative boundaries beyond state submerged lands for planning, coordination, and administrative purposes. The Supplementary Information in the January notice contained a section entitled ‘‘methodology.’’ Using equidistance as a method to establish maritime boundaries, in the absence of special circumstances or agreement to the contrary, is consistent with customary domestic and international law and conventions. It should also be noted that, although the three maps appended to the January 3, 2006 Notice depicted an extension of the shelf beyond the U.S. exclusive economic zone only in the Gulf of Mexico, this did not suggest that the United States does not have an extended shelf in other areas. Further, the depicted limits and boundaries do not prejudice or affect in any way United States sovereign rights or jurisdiction within or seaward of these limits and boundaries. Some of the planning area boundaries have been moved to correspond to the new administrative lines. The number of planning areas has not changed; it remains at 26. See Maps 1 and 2 for the redrawn planning areas. Some aspects of this draft proposed plan use these administrative boundaries. Congress has recently considered several legislative proposals that would establish state seaward lateral boundaries for OCS revenue sharing and other purposes. If such legislation is passed before this plan becomes final, we would consider adjustments to the areas offered in this PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 7065 5-year plan to reflect the same boundary lines, if appropriate. Proposed Lease Sales for Consideration The draft program proposes a total of 21 OCS lease sales in 7 areas (4 areas off Alaska, 2 areas in the Gulf of Mexico, and 1 area in the Atlantic). Maps A and B show the areas proposed for leasing. Table A lists the location and timing of the proposed lease sales in areas that are available for leasing consideration, i.e., not withdrawn or subject to congressional moratoria. Table B lists the location and timing of the proposed lease sales in areas that are withdrawn and/or subject to moratoria. Alaska Region In the Alaska Region, the draft program proposes multiple lease sales in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas and North Aleutian Basin Planning Areas, which are three areas of interest to Alaska, the MMS, and the oil and gas industry. Multiple sales are consistent with the Governor of Alaska’s recommendations. The North Aleutian Basin Planning Area is currently withdrawn by presidential order under section 12 of the OCS Lands Act. In response to the August Request for Information, the Governor of Alaska stated that ‘‘[t]he borough governments and regional Native corporations in the vicinity of the North Aleutian Basin have all expressed support for including this area in the next draft of the 2007– 2012 program. During the comment period on the draft, I hope that public and industry input will provide the Secretary and the state with adequate information to decide whether or not to ask the President to lift the current withdrawal and allow a sale during the 2007–2012 program.’’ In order to have this opportunity, the North Aleutian Basin is included in this proposal. The Cook Inlet Planning Area is included on the schedule for a ‘‘special interest sale’’ as a potential source of natural gas for local residents and businesses. This approach was first used in the current program for 2002–2007. A special interest sale is one that may be held on a date chosen by the Secretary, after consideration of the comments received in response to annual calls for information. Gulf of Mexico Region In the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico Planning Areas, which are the two areas of highest resource potential and interest, the draft proposed program would continue the customary practice of scheduling annual areawide lease sales. As a result of the reconfiguration of some planning areas to follow the E:\FR\FM\10FEN1.SGM 10FEN1 7066 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 28 / Friday, February 10, 2006 / Notices new administrative lines, some of the areas formerly in the Eastern and Western Gulf Planning Areas are now part of the Central Gulf Planning Area. As part of this draft proposed program, there are no lease sales scheduled in the newly configured Eastern Gulf Planning Area. Under this proposal, the Central Gulf of Mexico Planning Area would include a portion of the area that was identified for Sale 181 in the 5-year program for 1997–2002. This portion of the previous Sale 181 area is proposed for offering in 2007. The MMS has no intention of offering for leasing areas within 100 miles of the Florida coast that used to be part of the Eastern Gulf Planning Area. The original Sale 181 area is not under Presidential withdrawal and is not subject to congressional moratorium. Subsequent annual Central Gulf sales may consider the area to the south of the original Sale 181 area that is currently under Presidential withdrawal and has been subject to annual congressional moratorium, if both of those restrictions were to be lifted. rmajette on PROD1PC67 with NOTICES1 Atlantic OCS There are four planning areas in the Atlantic OCS—North Atlantic, MidAtlantic, South Atlantic, and Straits of Florida. The draft proposed program proposes a ‘‘special interest sale’’ in the Mid-Atlantic in late 2011. The area proposed for consideration is in the Mid-Atlantic Planning Area off the coastline of Virginia. In its response to the August Request for Information, Virginia expressed a willingness to continue a dialogue that explores options regarding the energy resources off its coastline. Inclusion of this area in the draft proposed program will provide additional information to the State, the public, industry, and other interested parties about the impacts of exploration off this coast. This will also provide further information to the Secretary to consider whether or not to propose a ‘‘special interest sale’’ in the 2007–2012 program, should the President lift the current withdrawal and should Congress discontinue the annual moratorium. In addition, pursuant to Section 18 of the OCS Lands Act, no sale will be proposed until all affected states have the opportunity to comment. There have not been any lease sales in the Atlantic since the early 1980’s. At this time, there are no active leases. VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:10 Feb 09, 2006 Jkt 208001 TABLE A.—DRAFT PROPOSED PROGRAM FOR 2007–2012—LEASE SALE SCHEDULE FOR AVAILABLE AREAS Sale no. Area 204 ......... Western Gulf of Mexico. Central Gulf of Mexico (Portion). Chukchi Sea .............. Central Gulf of Mexico Western Gulf of Mexico. Central Gulf of Mexico Beaufort Sea .............. Western Gulf of Mexico. Cook Inlet ................... Chukchi Sea .............. Central Gulf of Mexico Western Gulf of Mexico. Central Gulf of Mexico Beaufort Sea .............. Western Gulf of Mexico. Cook Inlet ................... Chukchi Sea .............. Central Gulf of Mexico 205 ......... 193 ......... 206 ......... 207 ......... 208 ......... 209 ......... 210 ......... 211 212 213 215 ......... ......... ......... ......... 216 ......... 217 ......... 218 ......... 219 ......... 221 ......... 222 ......... Year 2007 2007 2007 2008 2008 2009 2009 2009 2009 2010 2010 2010 2011 2011 2011 2011 2012 2012 requesting comments on preparing the 5-year program for 2007–2012, may wish to reference that information, as appropriate, rather than repeating it in their comments on the draft proposed program. We also invite comments and suggestions on how to proceed with the section 18 analysis for the next draft of the new program, the proposed program. Section 18(g) authorizes confidential treatment of privileged or proprietary information that is submitted. In order to protect the confidentiality of such information, respondents should include it as an attachment to other comments submitted and mark it appropriately. On request the MMS will treat such information as confidential from the time of its receipt until 5 years after approval of the new leasing program, subject to the standards of the Freedom of Information Act. The MMS will not treat as confidential any aggregate summaries of such information, the names of respondents, and comments not containing such information. Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Preparation TABLE B.—DRAFT PROPOSED PROIn accordance with section 102(2)(C) GRAM FOR 2007–2012—POTENTIAL of the NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4332(2)(C)), LEASE SALE SCHEDULE FOR AREAS MMS intends to prepare an EIS for the SUBJECT TO RESTRICTIONS* OCS oil and gas 5-year leasing program for 2007–2012 as we specified in the Sale no. Area Year August 2005 notice. As part of the scoping under NEPA, this notice again 214 ......... North Aleutian Basin .. 2010 solicits information regarding issues and 220 ......... Mid-Atlantic ................ 2011 alternatives that should be evaluated in 223 ......... North Aleutian Basin .. 2012 the EIS. Comments submitted in *Lease sales would only be held if the response to the August notice need not President chooses to modify the withdrawal in be re-submitted. both areas and Congress discontinues the anThe EIS will address the potential nual statutory moratorium off the coast of impacts of the adoption of the proposed Virginia. 5-year program. The MMS requests Assurance of Fair Market Value respondents to focus comments on significant environmental issues Section 18 of the OCS Lands Act attendant to OCS oil and gas leasing and requires receipt of fair market value for development which should be evaluated OCS oil and gas leases and the rights in the EIS. they convey. The draft proposed Public Scoping Meetings are planned program provides for setting minimum bid levels by individual lease sale based for the EIS development. Further on market conditions and for continuing information will be posted on the 5-year webpage at www.mms.gov and other to use a two-phase bid evaluation public notice. Dates and localities for all process. scoping meetings are being determined. Information Requested for the Draft For Atlantic scoping, information can be Proposed Program obtained from Norman Froomer at 703– We request all interested and affected 787–1644 or via e-mail at parties to comment on the size, timing, Norman.Froomer@mms.gov. For Alaska and location of leasing and the scoping, information can be obtained procedures for assuring fair market from the Alaska OCS Region at 1–800– value that are proposed in the Draft 764–2627 or via e-mail at Proposed 5-Year OCS Oil and Gas akwebmaster@mms.gov. For Gulf of Leasing Program for 2007–2012. Mexico scoping, information can be Respondents who submitted obtained from Dennis Chew at 504–736– information in response to the August 2793 or via e-mail at 24, 2005 Federal Register notice Dennis.Chew@mms.gov. PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\10FEN1.SGM 10FEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 28 / Friday, February 10, 2006 / Notices VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:10 Feb 09, 2006 Jkt 208001 For further information about preparation of the EIS, contact: James Bennett, Chief, Branch of Environmental Assessment at the Minerals Management Service, 381 Elden Street, MS 4042, Herndon, Virginia 20170, telephone (703) 787–1660. Next Steps in the Process The MMS plans to issue the proposed program and draft EIS in mid-summer PO 00000 Frm 00066 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4725 2006 for a 90-day comment period. We plan to issue the proposed final program and final EIS in winter 2007. The Secretary may approve the new 5-year program 60 days later to go into effect as of July 1, 2007. Dated: February 1, 2006. R.M. Johnnie Burton, Director, Minerals Management Service. BILLING CODE 4310–MR–P E:\FR\FM\10FEN1.SGM 10FEN1 EN10FE06.087</GPH> EN10FE06.088</GPH> rmajette on PROD1PC67 with NOTICES1 We are considering possible alternatives to the proposed action, such as offering for lease only those areas offered during the previous 5-year program, or excluding areas currently under congressional moratoria or presidential withdrawal. We will also evaluate the No Action alternative as required by NEPA and its implementing regulations. 7067 7068 [FR Doc. 06–1307 Filed 2–9–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–MR–C DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR National Park Service rmajette on PROD1PC67 with NOTICES1 Boston Harbor Islands Advisory Council; Notice of Meeting Notice is hereby given in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (PL 92–463) that the Boston Harbor Islands Advisory Council will hold its annual meeting on Wednesday, March 1, 2006. The meeting will convene at 6 VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:10 Feb 09, 2006 Jkt 208001 p.m. at the Boston Children’s Museum, 300 Congress Street, 5th floor, Boston, MA. The Advisory Council was appointed by the Director of the National Park Service pursuant to Public Law 104– 333. The 28 members represent business, educational/cultural, community and environmental entities; municipalities surrounding Boston Harbor; Boston Harbor advocates; and Native American interests. The purpose of the Council is to advise and make recommendations to the Boston Harbor Islands Partnership with respect to the development and implementation of a PO 00000 Frm 00067 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 management plan and the operations of the Boston Harbor Islands national park area. The Agenda for this meeting is as follows: 1. Call to Order, Introductions of Advisory Council members present. 2. Review and Approval of Minutes from the December 7, 2005 meeting. 3. Guest Speaker, George Price, Superintendent, Cape Cod National Seashore. 4. Update on Strategic Plan Review. 5. Report from the Partnership Office. 6. Nominations for Advisory Council members. E:\FR\FM\10FEN1.SGM 10FEN1 EN10FE06.089</GPH> EN10FE06.090</GPH> Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 28 / Friday, February 10, 2006 / Notices

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 71, Number 28 (Friday, February 10, 2006)]
[Notices]
[Pages 7064-7068]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 06-1307]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Minerals Management Service


Request for Comments on the Draft Proposed 5-Year Outer 
Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2007-2012 and 
Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for 
the Proposed 5-Year Program

SUMMARY: The Minerals Management Service (MMS) requests comments on the 
Draft Proposed 5-year OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2007-2012. 
This is the first proposal for a new program to succeed the current 
program that expires on June 30, 2007, and forms the basis for 
conducting the studies and analyses the Secretary will consider in 
making future decisions on what areas to include in the program.
    Section 18 of the OCS Lands Act (43 U.S.C. 1344) specifies a multi-
step process of consultation and analysis that must be completed before 
the Secretary of the Interior may approve a new 5-year program. The 
required steps following this notice include the development of a 
proposed program, a proposed final program, and Secretarial approval. 
Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the MMS also 
will prepare an EIS for the new 5-year program.

DATES: Please submit comments and information to the MMS no later than 
April 11, 2006.

Public Comment Procedure

    The MMS will accept comments in one of two formats: by mail or our 
Internet commenting system. Please submit your comments using only one 
of these formats, and include full names and addresses. Comments 
submitted by other means may not be considered. We will not consider 
anonymous comments, and we will make available for inspection in their 
entirety all comments submitted by organizations and businesses or by 
individuals identifying themselves as representatives of organizations 
and businesses.
    Our practice is to make comments, including the names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review. An individual 
commenter may ask that we withhold his or her name, home address, or 
both from the public record, and we will honor such a request to the 
extent allowable by law. If you submit comments and wish us to withhold 
such information, you must so state prominently at the beginning of 
your submission.

ADDRESSES: Mail comments and information to: Renee Orr, 5-Year Program 
Manager, Minerals Management Service (MS-4010), Room 3120, 381 Elden 
Street, Herndon, Virginia 20170. Please label your comments and the 
packaging in which they are submitted according to the subject matter. 
Mark those pertaining to program preparation, ``Comments on Draft 
Proposed 5-Year Program for 2007-2012,'' and mark those pertaining to 
EIS preparation, ``Scoping Comments on the EIS for the 5-Year Program 
for 2007-2012.'' If you submit any privileged or proprietary 
information to be treated as confidential, please mark the envelope, 
``Contains Confidential Information.''
    Internet: The MMS will accept comments submitted to our electronic 
commenting system. This system can be

[[Page 7065]]

accessed at http://www.mms.gov/5-year/2007-2012main.htm. We also will 
provide access to information concerning the 5-year program and EIS, 
including copies of comments we receive in response to this notice, at 
the MMS Internet website (www.mms.gov).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Renee Orr, 5-Year Program Manager, at 
(703) 787-1215.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The MMS requests comments from states, local 
governments, Native groups, tribes, the oil and gas industry, federal 
agencies, environmental and other interest organizations, and all other 
interested parties to assist in the preparation of a 5-year OCS oil and 
gas leasing program for 2007-2012 and the applicable EIS.
    The draft proposed program document may be downloaded off the MMS 
website at www.mms.gov. The document also is available as part of our 
electronic commenting system noted above. Hard copies will be made 
available by contacting the 5-Year Program Office at 703-787-1215.

Background

    Section 18 of the OCS Lands Act requires the Secretary of the 
Interior to prepare and maintain a schedule of proposed OCS oil and gas 
lease sales determined to ``best meet national energy needs for the 5-
year period following its approval or reapproval.'' This draft proposed 
program is the first proposed schedule of OCS lease sales for the 2007-
2012 timeframe. The areas identified as proposed program areas in this 
notice are ones that warrant further study and analysis based on oil 
and gas resource estimates and comments received in response to the 
August 24, 2005 Request for Information. Inclusion of areas in the 
draft proposed lease sale schedule provides a basis for gathering 
information and conducting analyses to inform policy makers whether to 
include these areas for leasing consideration in the new 5-year 
program. Before the new 5-year program is approved and implemented, the 
MMS must accept and consider comments on the draft proposed program and 
issue for public review a proposed program, a draft EIS, a proposed 
final program, and a final EIS.

Summary of the Draft Proposed Program

    In developing the draft proposed program for 2007-2012, the MMS 
considered leasing in the areas of the OCS that are included in the 
current 5-year program for 2002-2007 and additional areas off Alaska, 
the Gulf of Mexico, and Atlantic coast. Some of these areas are 
currently withdrawn from disposition by leasing through June 30, 2012, 
under section 12 of the OCS Lands Act (43 U.S.C. 1341) and have been 
subject to annual congressional moratoria. There will be no leasing of 
such areas unless the President chooses to modify the withdrawal and 
Congress discontinues the annual statutory moratoria. The analyses 
conducted for the proposed program may provide the information 
necessary for a potential modification of the withdrawal areas. The 
draft program proposes sales in offshore areas that have the highest 
oil and gas resource values and highest industry interest or are off 
the coasts of states that have expressed interest in learning more 
about potential energy exploration off their coasts. The proposed 
schedule is responsive to the recommendations of affected state and 
local governments.

New Planning Area Boundaries

    On January 3, 2006, the MMS published a notice in the Federal 
Register announcing the setting of Federal OCS administrative 
boundaries beyond state submerged lands for planning, coordination, and 
administrative purposes. The Supplementary Information in the January 
notice contained a section entitled ``methodology.'' Using equidistance 
as a method to establish maritime boundaries, in the absence of special 
circumstances or agreement to the contrary, is consistent with 
customary domestic and international law and conventions. It should 
also be noted that, although the three maps appended to the January 3, 
2006 Notice depicted an extension of the shelf beyond the U.S. 
exclusive economic zone only in the Gulf of Mexico, this did not 
suggest that the United States does not have an extended shelf in other 
areas. Further, the depicted limits and boundaries do not prejudice or 
affect in any way United States sovereign rights or jurisdiction within 
or seaward of these limits and boundaries. Some of the planning area 
boundaries have been moved to correspond to the new administrative 
lines. The number of planning areas has not changed; it remains at 26. 
See Maps 1 and 2 for the redrawn planning areas.
    Some aspects of this draft proposed plan use these administrative 
boundaries. Congress has recently considered several legislative 
proposals that would establish state seaward lateral boundaries for OCS 
revenue sharing and other purposes. If such legislation is passed 
before this plan becomes final, we would consider adjustments to the 
areas offered in this 5-year plan to reflect the same boundary lines, 
if appropriate.

Proposed Lease Sales for Consideration

    The draft program proposes a total of 21 OCS lease sales in 7 areas 
(4 areas off Alaska, 2 areas in the Gulf of Mexico, and 1 area in the 
Atlantic). Maps A and B show the areas proposed for leasing. Table A 
lists the location and timing of the proposed lease sales in areas that 
are available for leasing consideration, i.e., not withdrawn or subject 
to congressional moratoria. Table B lists the location and timing of 
the proposed lease sales in areas that are withdrawn and/or subject to 
moratoria.
Alaska Region
    In the Alaska Region, the draft program proposes multiple lease 
sales in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas and North Aleutian Basin 
Planning Areas, which are three areas of interest to Alaska, the MMS, 
and the oil and gas industry. Multiple sales are consistent with the 
Governor of Alaska's recommendations. The North Aleutian Basin Planning 
Area is currently withdrawn by presidential order under section 12 of 
the OCS Lands Act. In response to the August Request for Information, 
the Governor of Alaska stated that ``[t]he borough governments and 
regional Native corporations in the vicinity of the North Aleutian 
Basin have all expressed support for including this area in the next 
draft of the 2007-2012 program. During the comment period on the draft, 
I hope that public and industry input will provide the Secretary and 
the state with adequate information to decide whether or not to ask the 
President to lift the current withdrawal and allow a sale during the 
2007-2012 program.'' In order to have this opportunity, the North 
Aleutian Basin is included in this proposal.
    The Cook Inlet Planning Area is included on the schedule for a 
``special interest sale'' as a potential source of natural gas for 
local residents and businesses. This approach was first used in the 
current program for 2002-2007. A special interest sale is one that may 
be held on a date chosen by the Secretary, after consideration of the 
comments received in response to annual calls for information.
Gulf of Mexico Region
    In the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico Planning Areas, which are 
the two areas of highest resource potential and interest, the draft 
proposed program would continue the customary practice of scheduling 
annual areawide lease sales. As a result of the reconfiguration of some 
planning areas to follow the

[[Page 7066]]

new administrative lines, some of the areas formerly in the Eastern and 
Western Gulf Planning Areas are now part of the Central Gulf Planning 
Area. As part of this draft proposed program, there are no lease sales 
scheduled in the newly configured Eastern Gulf Planning Area. Under 
this proposal, the Central Gulf of Mexico Planning Area would include a 
portion of the area that was identified for Sale 181 in the 5-year 
program for 1997-2002. This portion of the previous Sale 181 area is 
proposed for offering in 2007. The MMS has no intention of offering for 
leasing areas within 100 miles of the Florida coast that used to be 
part of the Eastern Gulf Planning Area. The original Sale 181 area is 
not under Presidential withdrawal and is not subject to congressional 
moratorium. Subsequent annual Central Gulf sales may consider the area 
to the south of the original Sale 181 area that is currently under 
Presidential withdrawal and has been subject to annual congressional 
moratorium, if both of those restrictions were to be lifted.
Atlantic OCS
    There are four planning areas in the Atlantic OCS--North Atlantic, 
Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, and Straits of Florida. The draft 
proposed program proposes a ``special interest sale'' in the Mid-
Atlantic in late 2011. The area proposed for consideration is in the 
Mid-Atlantic Planning Area off the coastline of Virginia. In its 
response to the August Request for Information, Virginia expressed a 
willingness to continue a dialogue that explores options regarding the 
energy resources off its coastline. Inclusion of this area in the draft 
proposed program will provide additional information to the State, the 
public, industry, and other interested parties about the impacts of 
exploration off this coast. This will also provide further information 
to the Secretary to consider whether or not to propose a ``special 
interest sale'' in the 2007-2012 program, should the President lift the 
current withdrawal and should Congress discontinue the annual 
moratorium. In addition, pursuant to Section 18 of the OCS Lands Act, 
no sale will be proposed until all affected states have the opportunity 
to comment. There have not been any lease sales in the Atlantic since 
the early 1980's. At this time, there are no active leases.

 Table A.--Draft Proposed Program for 2007-2012--Lease Sale Schedule for
                             Available Areas
------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Sale no.                          Area                 Year
------------------------------------------------------------------------
204..........................  Western Gulf of Mexico.........      2007
205..........................  Central Gulf of Mexico               2007
                                (Portion).
193..........................  Chukchi Sea....................      2007
206..........................  Central Gulf of Mexico.........      2008
207..........................  Western Gulf of Mexico.........      2008
208..........................  Central Gulf of Mexico.........      2009
209..........................  Beaufort Sea...................      2009
210..........................  Western Gulf of Mexico.........      2009
211..........................  Cook Inlet.....................      2009
212..........................  Chukchi Sea....................      2010
213..........................  Central Gulf of Mexico.........      2010
215..........................  Western Gulf of Mexico.........      2010
216..........................  Central Gulf of Mexico.........      2011
217..........................  Beaufort Sea...................      2011
218..........................  Western Gulf of Mexico.........      2011
219..........................  Cook Inlet.....................      2011
221..........................  Chukchi Sea....................      2012
222..........................  Central Gulf of Mexico.........      2012
------------------------------------------------------------------------


  Table B.--Draft Proposed Program for 2007-2012--Potential Lease Sale
               Schedule for Areas Subject to Restrictions*
------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Sale no.                          Area                 Year
------------------------------------------------------------------------
214..........................  North Aleutian Basin...........      2010
220..........................  Mid-Atlantic...................      2011
223..........................  North Aleutian Basin...........     2012
------------------------------------------------------------------------
*Lease sales would only be held if the President chooses to modify the
  withdrawal in both areas and Congress discontinues the annual
  statutory moratorium off the coast of Virginia.

Assurance of Fair Market Value

    Section 18 of the OCS Lands Act requires receipt of fair market 
value for OCS oil and gas leases and the rights they convey. The draft 
proposed program provides for setting minimum bid levels by individual 
lease sale based on market conditions and for continuing to use a two-
phase bid evaluation process.

Information Requested for the Draft Proposed Program

    We request all interested and affected parties to comment on the 
size, timing, and location of leasing and the procedures for assuring 
fair market value that are proposed in the Draft Proposed 5-Year OCS 
Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2007-2012. Respondents who submitted 
information in response to the August 24, 2005 Federal Register notice 
requesting comments on preparing the 5-year program for 2007-2012, may 
wish to reference that information, as appropriate, rather than 
repeating it in their comments on the draft proposed program. We also 
invite comments and suggestions on how to proceed with the section 18 
analysis for the next draft of the new program, the proposed program.
    Section 18(g) authorizes confidential treatment of privileged or 
proprietary information that is submitted. In order to protect the 
confidentiality of such information, respondents should include it as 
an attachment to other comments submitted and mark it appropriately. On 
request the MMS will treat such information as confidential from the 
time of its receipt until 5 years after approval of the new leasing 
program, subject to the standards of the Freedom of Information Act. 
The MMS will not treat as confidential any aggregate summaries of such 
information, the names of respondents, and comments not containing such 
information.

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Preparation

    In accordance with section 102(2)(C) of the NEPA (42 U.S.C. 
4332(2)(C)), MMS intends to prepare an EIS for the OCS oil and gas 5-
year leasing program for 2007-2012 as we specified in the August 2005 
notice. As part of the scoping under NEPA, this notice again solicits 
information regarding issues and alternatives that should be evaluated 
in the EIS. Comments submitted in response to the August notice need 
not be re-submitted.
    The EIS will address the potential impacts of the adoption of the 
proposed 5-year program. The MMS requests respondents to focus comments 
on significant environmental issues attendant to OCS oil and gas 
leasing and development which should be evaluated in the EIS.
    Public Scoping Meetings are planned for the EIS development. 
Further information will be posted on the 5-year webpage at www.mms.gov 
and other public notice. Dates and localities for all scoping meetings 
are being determined. For Atlantic scoping, information can be obtained 
from Norman Froomer at 703-787-1644 or via e-mail at 
Norman.Froomer@mms.gov. For Alaska scoping, information can be obtained 
from the Alaska OCS Region at 1-800-764-2627 or via e-mail at 
akwebmaster@mms.gov. For Gulf of Mexico scoping, information can be 
obtained from Dennis Chew at 504-736-2793 or via e-mail at 
Dennis.Chew@mms.gov.

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    We are considering possible alternatives to the proposed action, 
such as offering for lease only those areas offered during the previous 
5-year program, or excluding areas currently under congressional 
moratoria or presidential withdrawal. We will also evaluate the No 
Action alternative as required by NEPA and its implementing 
regulations.
    For further information about preparation of the EIS, contact: 
James Bennett, Chief, Branch of Environmental Assessment at the 
Minerals Management Service, 381 Elden Street, MS 4042, Herndon, 
Virginia 20170, telephone (703) 787-1660.

Next Steps in the Process

    The MMS plans to issue the proposed program and draft EIS in mid-
summer 2006 for a 90-day comment period. We plan to issue the proposed 
final program and final EIS in winter 2007. The Secretary may approve 
the new 5-year program 60 days later to go into effect as of July 1, 
2007.

    Dated: February 1, 2006.
R.M. Johnnie Burton,
Director, Minerals Management Service.
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